The Right People in the Right Place at the Right Time

I am now back in Hong Kong and on the bus on the way from the airport to home in Down town Sheung Wan. Before I get engulfed by the piles of “to dos” that will be awaiting me, I want to take a moment to reflect on the great people that gathered in Doha for the Flat Classroom Conference and the dynamic that emerged over the last 3 days.
Firstly the organizers, Julie Lindsay and Vicky Davis were a great inspiration to us all. Their names are now synonymous with global collaborative student projects and it is this clear mission and focus that allows them to deliver the imperative to all that what they were going to do in Doha was going to be successful by any measure. Julie is clearly a clear thinking and persuasive organizer who can network with the right people and get the support and resources that she needs. Vicky is a very confident, polished and organized presenter who has a very clear picture in her head of how students can be inspired and motivated to work together to do their bit to solve a global social issue. To say that they are a powerful combination is an understatement.
Next it was clear that both Vicky and Julie had given some thought to offering something of substance for the educators who were going to attend but were not going to be facilitating with the students. Their choice of getting Don Knezec and Lynn Nolan of ISTE to conduct leadership training using the ISTE NET standards and then to bring the educators into sessions where the students were presenting connecting and doing things of significance was a very good one. Whilst I was not able to attend the sessions conducted by Don and Lynn, I could see from the sheets on the walls and the intelligent discussion with attendees at the group sessions that they were getting a lot from the workshops. It must have been hard to keep your mind on planning and administrative issues when you know that in the next room there is some very powerful connecting and production of digital artifacts of a professional quality going on but Don and Lynn seem to have risen to the challenge.
From the moment I met him, I knew that Frank Guttler was going to have a powerful effect on the students. Frank has an honesty and a calmness that almost masks a raw passion to tell stories through moving images. Anyone near me when the final students movies where shown will know that I was in awe of what Frank had done with the students in such a short period of time. I am not saying that the final result is “Hollywood standard”. What I am saying is that these students had learnt so much from Frank in a single morning that they had gone from simply setting some provocative photos to some haunting music and speaking over the top to creating stand-alone stories with impact. My mind boggles at what Frank might be able to achieve if given a week or so with a motivated group of students. Hope I get to find out some day soon!
Unfortunately I did not get to see Chris Chater’s sessions but from chatting to Chris I could tell that he was equally passionate about the place of music in telling stories. I guess that the music used in all of the final products must be in many ways due to Chris’s influence and this puts him in the category of a master. John Turner was another inspirational figure who, in spite of being somewhat “hobbled” by recent foot surgery, had clear energy and drive as well as a knowledge of what can be done with a high-order task and good knowledge of some creative tools on the web.
Finally the two “Aussie Annes”, Anne Baird and Ann Mirtschin, were everything that you could hope for in teachers. They were caring, supportive, knowledgeable, resourceful and always patient and positive. Any teacher would learn so much from shadowing what they do with students as they are both a case study in supportive classroom management for project-based learning.

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  1. Pingback: All eyes on the flatclassroom conference « On an e-journey with generation Y

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